CraftBEE is an unique brewing project where a long but forgotten tradition of “honeybeer” is on the way to conquer Germany, their neighbouring countries and soon the world
When did you start the brewery ? Where the idea came from ?
The brewing project exists since 2015. It’s actually a spin-off from our apiary that started in 2010. It came to life by serendipity: I had tried different honeybeers, but found none of them convincing. Either overly sweet or so strong that the alcohol overshadows the honey flavours, but then we met a brewer who was itching for new styles and recipes. It turned out that our honey was the ingredient he was looking for. Together we created a unique brewing style that harmonizes flavour and body.
This is a hobby which became a full time passion?
As every beekeeper will confirm: when you are working with bees it is never a mere hobby – it is more like a love-affair. The same is true for our beers: when we started the trials for a recipe we had no commercial background and limitations – we just wanted to create the perfect honey beer – the one that buzzes with hybrid vigor – as in our claim: The whole is more than the hum of its parts!
Honey as a key ingredient, this must be very unique in the craft beer scene?
There are many creative brewers who use all kinds of ingredients to add flavours in the brewing process – you find fruits, spices, herbs and of course honey. What is unique about us is that we are working exclusively with honey in combination with different brewing styles – mostly from our own apiary. Adding honey to beer is an old tradition that we revive. Before hop was the main ingredient, brewers used to add honey as a preserving agent. Honey contains hydrogen peroxide and natural antioxidants that work in the same way as hop.
You are far away from the classic German beer tradition isn’t it ?
In Germany we still have the „Reinheitsgebot“ (Law of Purity) from 1516 – it says that beer shall be made exclusively from 4 basic ingredients: water, barley, hop and yeast – everything else may not be called beer. As we have an additional ingredient we are officially outside the law of purity, which makes distribution in Germany difficult. We need to apply for every new recipe for a rather costly certificate of exemption to distribute it as „honeybeer“ – fortunately there are lots of historical recipes we can rely to. In my opinion, it is a rather ridiculous atavism – I would prefer a law of naturalness.
You also make other delicacies based on honey ?
We have some very prolific collaborations running. There is honey-candy and there is a Master-Chocolatier who makes honey-beer-pralines for us. The Honey-Stout is reduced to the essence and together with some honey added to a pure cocoa mass – the result can only be called divine! Next thing is a Honey-Gin that we are producing with the Fieldfare-Distillery in our neighbourhood.
How many beers you have available right now?
We have 5 different beers permanently in stock plus seasonal specialities- from Blonde to Black we cover the complete colour spectrum. And there are many fellow-beekeepers who bring us their honey and have their home-brand created by us.
Where are you selling right now?
Most sales are inside Germany and the neighbouring countries. With Bee-Os we now have a strong partner for the distribution in Switzerland and Austria. We even did some exports to Japan and China recently.
You have plans to conquer the world with these quite unique beers?
Of course! The world needs more high quality honeybeers that we would gladly deliver 😉
Did Covid 19 affect your business ? Or did it change your way of working ?
Sure. All the fairs and festivals that we used to attend were cancelled and the orders from the gastronomy broke off for quite a long time. Together with our partner brewery we had to create an Online Shop from the scratch and find new ways of bringing our beers to the customers. I think we managed it quite well so far. What was good for us: When the lockdown came and the stockpiling set in the honey-sales skyrocketed – in times of crisis honey is a very hard currency!
Other new types of beers in the pipeline for the future?
Quite a lot! Together with Hohmanns Brewery and Uthoka Brewery from The Netherlands we will do a Christmas-Special: A Gingerbread-Honey-Tripel! Probably the first of its kind worldwide. There is a beekeeper who wants a special beer with his chestnut-honey and the German beekeepers association turns 100 next year and wants to celebrate with a special jubiliee-honeybeer – this keeps us quite busy and gives an optimistic outlook.
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